By Arch Hoercher
We are going to look at two very short parables from the book of Matthew concerning the Kingdom of Heaven. The first thing that needs to be done is give a short description of what the Kingdom of Heaven is. It is mentioned many times in scripture. The Kingdom of Heaven is also mentioned in the other gospels as the Kingdom of God and in other places in the Bible as Christ’s Kingdom. All these references are speaking about the same Kingdom. The Kingdom of Heaven (or God) is the place where Christ Himself is the undisputed King of kings and Lord of lords. The Kingdom is directly associated with the sphere of salvation. If one enters the Kingdom of Heaven one also enters into eternal life. Philippians 3:20 (NIV) – “But our citizenship is in heaven.” If you are among the redeemed, your true citizenship is in heaven not this earth. Luke 17:20-21 (NIV) tells us that the current Kingdom is not tangible and is invisible (until Christ’s second coming): “Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The coming of the Kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the Kingdom of God is in your midst.’” Adding to this is when “Jesus said, ‘My Kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36 NIV). This, of course, is not the final description of Christ’s Kingdom. It will all come together with Jesus Christ’s bodily return to this world. Revelation 11:15 (NIV) – “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign for ever and ever.” We are reminded in the Lord’s prayer that “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10). The Kingdom of Heaven is constantly growing with every sinner that is redeemed who then, because of God’s grace, becomes a citizen of this Kingdom for all eternity.
There are two short parables about the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus was recorded as teaching in Matthew Chapter 13. The first is “The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matthew 13:44 NIV). This at first glance may seem to be a bit illegal. To the Jewish audience of the time this is perfectly legal. If the original owner of the field had been the one that buried the treasure, he would have dug it up before selling the field. According to Jewish law this transaction would have been perfectly legal.
The second parable is similar to the first. “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46 NIV). This was a merchant. A person whose business was buying and selling pearls. In Jewish society at this time pearls were a jewel of great value. Their value was based upon their shape and color. They were also a portable source of wealth. They could be carried with you. This merchant found a pearl that was so perfect and of such great value that he sold everything he had to be able to purchase this one pearl.
In these two parables, what was Jesus teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven? First, the Kingdom of Heaven is virtually priceless. There is no amount of wealth or worldly treasure that can purchase your admittance into the Kingdom. Christ made the purchase for us. The price He paid for our redemption and forgiveness of sin was way beyond any price that man could ever come up with. Your entire savings account and 401K could not purchase the Kingdom. If one could acquire all the wealth available in the entire world, that amount could not purchase the Kingdom of Heaven. The treasure of Heaven, purchased by Jesus Christ, will make every one of the earth’s poor, miserable, blind, sinful inhabitants immeasurably rich for all eternity. This treasure includes salvation, forgiveness, love, joy, peace, virtue, goodness, glory, eternal life in the presence of God and fellowship with Jesus Christ personally. How could any worldly value be placed upon that?
Second, the treasure in the field was hidden and the pearl had to be found. This treasure is not obvious. The truth is hidden just like the truth in the parables. The truth is there to be understood, but it must be sought after. The current Kingdom of Heaven does not come with blaring trumpets and 4th of July like fireworks. Luke 17:20 tells us that the Kingdom of God does not come with fanfare. Most will pay little attention to it. “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” John 3:3. The Bible tells us that most see the Kingdom of God as foolishness. They see no worth in it. They see much more worth in the power and wealth offered by the world. The world does not have any understanding of why a Christian values the kingdom of heaven so greatly. It means nothing to the world. People cannot fathom why a Christian surrenders themselves to the lordship of Christ and tries to avoid sin and its pleasures. It goes against every want and desire of the fallen human heart. Most people are blind to the riches offered by the Kingdom of Heaven. The Christian, on the other hand, sees and understands the value and wishes nothing else. If one were only to seek the Lord, Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8).
Third, the Kingdom of Heaven is found personally – not corporately. The key person in each of the parables is an individual. It is not the church or Microsoft. The only way one can gain entrance into the Kingdom is through an individual and personal experience. Just because a person is a citizen of the United States and our money states “In God we Trust” does not qualify for an automatic ticket into the Kingdom. There are way too many people in the world that believe they have admission into the Kingdom of Heaven because they were baptized or are a member of a church or contribute money to the poor. Just because you might be a member of some group or family such as the Jews or the Baptists or that you say that you are Pentecostal does not gain you admittance into the Kingdom. One has to have personally had a born again experience with Christ through the Holy Spirit of God to have access to the Kingdom of God. One must trust fully in Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. This is not a “live as you would like” relationship and surrender to His lordship on your schedule.
Fourth, there is not only one way that the treasure is found. Both parables are very similar, but there is a big difference. In the first parable the man stumbles onto the treasure. He was plowing the field and accidently found the treasure. The second man sought after the treasure. Both men understood the worth of the treasure and gave up everything they owned to acquire it. Paul is an example of the first man stumbling onto the treasure. Paul was on the road going with glee to persecute Christians. Jesus showed up and knocked him off his high horse onto the dirt. He was redeemed. Paul had been quite satisfied with his life and position in life. He was not looking for Jesus other than to destroy His church. Another example is the Samaritan woman at the well. She went to the well to get water but found Jesus. There are others, the man born blind and the Apostle Matthew. Both were not seeking, but were found. The merchant, on the other hand, was knowingly seeking the Kingdom. He was being drawn to Christ in a conscious manner. He knew what he wanted and was pursuing it.
Fifth, there is a cost to be paid for saving faith. Very simply put, saving faith is an exchange. We exchange all we are (were) for all that Christ is. Christ paid the price on the cross so that we could be reconciled with God. This is a process. It does not occur over night. We must have a heart that hates sin but loves righteousness. As we grow in our relationship with Christ, sin becomes less of a problem in our lives and righteousness a greater desire. If one is looking for proof of salvation, it can be found in the loving submission to the Lord and His Word. God’s Word teaches us that if you are not willing to give up whatever needs to be given up IN ORDER to be faithful to Christ, then you are not worthy of Christ. 2 Peter 3:18 states – “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our faith and our walk with Christ is a process.
Both parables show us that there is a cost to follow Jesus Christ. If you do that thoughtfully, you will realize that the pearl is so valuable and the treasure so rich that it is worth letting go of every temporal treasure of this world.